After a walk in the deep snow
Well, everyone, I am in the middle of a writing and thinking retreat before opening the 2014 calendar and getting down to planning and directing both summer plays. After a walk in the deep snow of a conservation area near where I’m staying on the shore of southern Georgian Bay I have settled down to reading and writing but have become distracted by the ubiquitous Utube offerings on my computer. Having been thinking about the death of one of my favorite film actors, Peter O’Toole, at the age of 81, I googled him and found his honorary Oscar acceptance speech from several years ago. Then I watched Laurence Olivier’s and then Alec Guinness’. Alec Guinness’ was the best, not only because he was introduced by another of my favorite film actors, Dustin Hoffman, but also because he said one of the funniest and true things I’ve ever heard about acting. He said at acting school when he was young the instructor brought in an empty frame, maybe 3 feet x 3 feet, at least big enough to frame the face like a film or tv screen close up, and asked the actors to portray different emotions – to see how effectively one could do so, approximating the cinematic medium. Guinness said he was tempted to give his classmates a laugh with exaggerated portrayals of fear, love etc. but he just did nothing for each emotion as it was called out, absolutely nothing. And then he said that’s what he has been doing on screen ever since. It’s the lack of doing anything that is so effective and has given him such an incredible career!
Now I’m half way through the Dick Cavett interviews with Richard Burton from 1980, which should be required viewing for any theatre or movie lover. He’s so personable, open and frank, it’s a great tonic for any actor wanting to hear another actor reflect on life and work.
So, tomorrow cross-country skiing and writing, the next day maybe even a kickboxing class and writing. Are you getting a theme here? Tire the muscles and free up the imagination. We’ll see. Talk soon.
Photo by: Lindy Powell